Check below another inspiring interview, with Justyna “Louvey” Wachowska, a very talented 3D artist, from Duality Games & Dekogon.
Who or what inspired you to get into 3D art?
My older brother got me into games when we got our first computer. I remember watching him mod (and then break) Morrowind back in the early 2000s. At some point all the textures went missing and all I could see were these crazy wireframe meshes, I remember I was fascinated with that. I always loved creating worlds, I remember spending countless hours as a kid creating maps for my favourite games such as Heroes of Might and Magic III or Jazz Jackrabbit II. Few years later I started making simple mods; additional content for The Sims 2 and high resolution textures for Minecraft. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in gamedev, but I didn’t know where to start and what role I would be good for. I always liked drawing but never felt like I was good at it, so all the creative roles seemed impossible and unreachable. And then Skyrim came out and along with a few other RPG titles I played in the following years it made me realize that it doesn’t matter how much work it will take to get there, I had to at least try.
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now I work as an environment artist for Duality Games. I create models and environments for the upcoming horror game Unholy. From time to time I also do some freelance work for Dekogon. Recently I started experimenting with using game art workflow to create static illustrations. Not having to worry about all the optimization restrictions allows me to focus more on the details, lighting and composition. It’s refreshing to use the same tools for such different purposes.
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
There are so many best parts! Creative freedom and ability to tell stories through environments are my favourite. I love thinking about characters that live (or used to live) in the areas I’m working on. My second favourite thing is texturing, for some reason I always found it very calming and rewarding. And then there are social aspects of my job: working in a creative environment with so many passionate and driven people around, going to conventions and conferences. To be honest it feels like every part of my job is the best.
I think the worst part is learning to not get too precious about your work. There are hero assets and important environments and these are really fun to make, but sometimes the quality has to be sacrificed in order to get everything done on time. Not every 3D model will be seen from up close and some of the objects simply have to look generic. Learning to manage my time properly and not to overestimate my speed was the hardest thing for me and after nearly 4 years in the industry I still struggle with these.
What does your typical workflow look like and what tools and software do you prefer?
When I create 3D models, my workflow always begins with gathering reference. Once I have a good sense of what I’m making I start with creating low or high poly, depending on if the model is hard surface or organic. I use 3DS Max for low poly modelling and unwrapping, Zbrush for high poly sculpting, Substance Painter for baking texturing and Marmoset Toolbag for rendering.
What key piece of advice would you offer to a 3D artist aspiring to work in the games industry?
Always seek feedback. Getting compliments on your art is nice, but there’s nothing more valuable than constructive criticism. Don’t be afraid to show people your work.
What’s your favourite game and why?
Definitely Morrowind. It was one of the first games I ever played and after all these years I keep going back to it. I remember that as a kid I was completely fascinated by it’s vast, detailed world and sandbox mechanics. I used to spend hours just roaming the world, picking alchemy ingredients, reading the books and arranging all my loot and riches inside my favourite house in Balmora. I played countless RPGs since then but I don’t think I was ever so immersed in any other game. Morrowind was ground-breaking back in 2002 and I believe that even now, after nearly 20 years it still holds up incredibly well thanks to it’s great mechanics. I love it’s written dialogues and complex fast travel system that makes me actually sit down and plan my journey ahead. Throughout the years, this game never failed to inspire me to create; back in high school I tried to write a book that was loosely based on it’s lore. It was one of the games that sparked the idea of working in gamedev and just last week it made me jump back into traditional painting.
Finally, what do you like to do in your spare time (if you have any)?
I have a terrible habit of starting way too many new projects. Being stuck at home due to the pandemic made it even worse. I discovered I really enjoy working with wood; I did some chip carving, a few pyrography projects and I built a TV/Record player stand (that I designed in 3D first).
I also try to catch up with my 2D skills too by doing some life drawing and digital painting.
Thank you so much for this great interview Justyna. Huge tks also to Dekogon and Duality Games.
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